Angela Gardner, OFLA Public Relations and Advocacy Chair
Spanish Teacher, Ross High School
Recently, while scrolling through a social media platform (prompted by quarantine boredom), I happened across a post from a frustrated parent in a district, dissatisfied with the district’s handling of pandemic response. This parent wanted desperately to vote on the issue of whether to reopen schools in their area, in hopes that a majority vote might see a change in the plans for the district.
It dawned on me that this parent, caught up in the frustration of how leaders and representatives are handling their pandemic response, completely missed the mark in her response. Like many others, the parent took to social media to vent her frustrations. To her credit, she even proposed a solution: for parents in the community to vote on the issue at hand (reopening schools). I realized that, like so many others, she had forgotten how to direct her voice.
The problem with social media advocacy efforts is that it often does not result in much more than a venting session, and even proposed solutions fall through, because they do not follow the appropriate avenues to promote change. I see many of my colleagues following the same style of advocacy, sharing articles via social media to bolster their views, but those articles and their points are lost in the cacophony of voices online.
While social media can be a powerful place to gather steam and get a pulse on the public opinion of a certain issue, we must not stop there with our efforts to advocate for our issues. To be effective, we can first vote for candidates and representatives locally, at the state level, and nationally, that we feel best represent us on different issues.
Then, we can continue to help our representatives by writing letters or emails that share our personal stories, as well as any pertinent research, that bolster our views on the issues. We can provide written and/or spoken testimony, whether at a School Board meeting or a congressional hearing on a bill.
When term limits expire, if we are dissatisfied with our representatives, we can vote for an alternate candidate. We can even run for positions in our communities and states ourselves, if we feel we can be more effective in representing citizens. We can absolutely use social media to gauge and garner support. The more vocal people are about an issue, the louder that voice becomes.
I want to encourage you to remember your voice and power as a voter, outside social media. This is a critical time in our country, and the impact of these times will be felt for a long time. Your voice counts!